Break dancer Liu Yuanchen now spends all the time "besides work and sleep" on the short-video-social-platform Douyin, or Tik Tok for its international edition. Four hours every day at least.
That time has paid off. He has seen his followers on the app growing from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand, all in the span of a year. And Douyin in China boasts of billions of hits each day. Its international edition has recently topped off Whatsapp, becoming the most downloaded IOS application on the market in the first quarter of 2018.
And Liu has come to be a master of the arts: Tik Tok videos are typically 15 seconds long, tuned to repurposed, hit music and featured special effects. Liu said he has found funny facial expressions plus wacky dance moves the winning acts. He also sensed that the popularity with the app lies in a bigger, popular crave for social bonds.
"The things they can shoot and replicate on their own. And play with friends. These become really big." Liu told CGTN.
Also trending on the platform are lip-synching videos, travel-logs and funny home videos.
"During my commute, when I'm off work. Put together, I scroll through videos two hours a day, " a Beijing resident in the Central Business District area told CGTN. He, like many interviewed, said it's "relaxing" to watch such videos.
Zhi Ying, senior Director with Tik Tok said the users, whether domestic or overseas, seem to fall for the same things. "We've found similarities across the markets. Young people like foodie videos, humorous interactions, and they're very innovative," she added.
She said the app's popularity builds on what users, typically under 35, made and submitted themselves, as they've taken the format to be an essential way of expression.
Zhi told CGTN that short-video is the new way of expression and communication now, just as important as texts and photos. And many in China are eyeing the market.
China's tech giant Alibaba said its own video sharing social platform will launch in June. Tencent is reported to be injecting billions of yuan into its own short-video application. And that's on top of a handful of other applications, looking to secure more than just 15 seconds of fame.